Handbags are so much more than just a thing to sling around your shoulder. They can be the outfit-making touch that takes your look from thrown-together and unkempt to polished and thoughtful. To wit, think of the ever-heated discourse about "It" bags, with fashion insiders debating for decades over classic versus contemporary silhouettes—Gucci's timeless Diana (opens in new tab) or Bottega Veneta's trendy Cassette (opens in new tab)? With a great handbag comes great responsibility, and the spring 2023 bag trends are a testament to the accessory's statement-making nature.
From office-approved briefcases to dramatic, almost laughably large totes, the front-running handbags for the coming season showcase the power of the handbags we carry. With insight from Rebag's Chief Marketing Officer, Elizabeth Layne (opens in new tab), Marie Claire details the five soon-to-be-everywhere trendy bags of spring 2023, including a few novelty styles you've likely never seen before (spoiler alert: chocolate chip cookies are involved).
Gargantuan Is the Greatest
Micro was cute; bigger was better; but in spring 2023, gargantuan-sized bags are the greatest. On the runways, Altuzarra and Ferragamo unveiled exaggerated totes in canvas and suede, while Bottega Veneta scaled up top-handle bags into swollen teardrops. Layne theorizes the blown-up proportions signal a collective craving for adventure: "With global restrictions dwindling and pent-up demand for travel prompting many to finally book that trip, consumers are planning vacations and bringing large functional and stylish accessories," the expert explains.
Like a sharp-eyed magpie, designers were attracted to all things shiny in their Spring/Summer 2023 collections. From heavily bejeweled totes to reflective scrunchy shoulder bags, runway showings from Altuzarra, Cecilie Bahnsen, and Valentino featured an assortment of bags done in stunning silver.
"After almost three years of Covid, people are excited to express themselves publicly in new and exciting ways," describes Layne. "And with handbags, we've seen everything from crochet to sequins, teeny-tiny to oversized, so designers want to try something fresh." In spring 2023, that something fresh is: whimsy-filled handbags inspired by foods, like Puppets and Puppet's cookie purse and Collina Strada's broccoli bag. Layne says these snack-inspired novelty items overlap with fashion's recent penchant for surrealism as "a way to have fun, express yourself, and feel a little bit of joy. Plus, they're a great distraction considering the state of the world," she adds.
"It's no surprise that with the return of going into the office, there's an increase in demand for practical pieces and designers re-introducing such styles on the runway," explains Layne, signaling out the structured work bags (opens in new tab) shown at Prada, Tory Burch, and Miu Miu. She notes that the functional-meets-fashion silhouette is one that'll be sticking around throughout the year, too: "We expect to see even more office-ready styles on the Fall/Winter 2023 runways," she forecasts.
Clutch It Close
Considering you'll soon be packing your down parka and pillowy puffer coat (opens in new tab) back into storage, you'll need a new sartorial cuddle buddy for spring. May we recommend a plushy, huggable clutch? You can follow Gabriela Hearst and Fendi's lead of soft, cloud-like leather in squishy forms or the Dries Van Noten route, which is more of a throw pillow-inspired take of ruffles and frills.
Meet the Expert
Elizabeth Layne is the Chief Marketing Officer of Rebag. Prior to Rebag, Elizabeth was the Chief Marketing Officer of London-based retail / real estate startup, Appear Here, where she supervised all marketing and creative functions, as well as launched the business in Paris and New York. Previously, Elizabeth was Marketing Director for one of the US's fastest-growing menswear brands, Bonobos, acquired by Walmart in 2017. At Bonobos, she had primary oversight of performance, brand, and retail marketing.
Emma Childs is the Style Editor at Marie Claire, where she researches up-and-coming trends, curates shopping guides, and gushes about the must-buy items she can't stop thinking about. She previously wrote for TZR, Editorialist, Elite Daily, and Mission Magazine and studied Fashion Studies and New Media at Fordham University. When she's not writing up fashion deep-dives or finding the season's best pieces, you'll find her fiddling around in Photoshop and perusing HBO Max for the next show to base her personality on (currently, it's "Succession").
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